President Bush to meet with LDS Church leaders in Utah

Saturday, May 24, 2008

United States President George W. Bush is set to meet with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints next week in Utah. President Bush's primary purpose in visiting Utah is to raise money for Republican presidential candidate John McCain's general election campaign. The Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune have reported that the meeting is scheduled for May 29.

George W. Bush (right) meets with the First Presidency in August 2006.
Image: Eric Draper, Director of the White House Photo Office.

According to spokesmen for the church, also called the Mormon Church or LDS Church, President Bush will meet with the three-member First Presidency which includes the new president Thomas S. Monson. Monson became the 16th president of the Mormon Church in early February after the death of the previous president, Gordon B. Hinckley.

This is President Bush's first visit with the new First Presidency leadership since the death of former president Hinckley. Bush last met with the three Mormon Church leaders when he was in Utah for a speech at the American Legion convention in August 2006.

According to Deseret News President Bush will attend a US$70,100-a-couple fundraiser and reception at the Deer Valley home of Mitt Romney, and may potentially stay overnight at Romney's vacation home. Money from the reception will go into a joint fund-raising account called McCain Victory 2008.

"Romney had a very powerful fundraising operation with a lot of donations coming out of this area, and of course now he can leverage that to help McCain," said Brigham Young University political science professor Quin Monson in a statement in The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that statements from McCain's campaign show he raised $502,650 from Utah donors through the end of April. Romney had raised $5.5 million before dropping out of the Republican primary for the presidential nomination and subsequently endorsed McCain. Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts, and headed the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Utah.